It's 2021 already, ladies and gentlemen. And many of you may be hoping that this is the year you'll find true love. Some of you may be hoping that it will show up randomly at the coffee shop or grocery store. But others of you may be taking a more active approach to finding a relationship.
Maybe you'll ask friends to set you up. Or perhaps you plan to take a class on how to attract love. Still, others may prefer the now-traditional approach of dating apps. If you have a bohemian side, maybe you'll write a list of qualities you want in a man and possibly dance around a fire.
If you've tried all of these things with no success, you could explore the Hollywood Hallmark approach. I call it that, but this method is based on the storyline of all cheesy romance and rom-com films from Hallmark, Netflix, Amazon or any other purveyor of schmaltz.
They have formulas that are so incredibly similar that I have come to suspect that they are based on some kind of universal archetypes and not just female fantasy. Plus, I have my own Hallmark (ish) version of romance as (somewhat flimsy) evidence.
But before we get to that, let's analyze the playbook to find perfect love according to the corniest chick flicks out there. Here's what you should do to increase your chances of finding the perfect man for you.
Leave Town Immediately
The first thing you must do to find love is to leave your town. Like right now. No matter how much you dig your city, love is not waiting for you there. Jump in a car, on a plane or even a train and get the heck out of dodge and en route to romance-ville stat.
Where are you headed? Well, there's some flexibility here. If you have a vacation home, family ranch or small home town to go back to and visit, your chances seem to increase exponentially. (See: Christmas in the Rockies)
You don't have to plan on staying forever (though you probably will), but you will need to hang out for at least a couple of weeks.
If you don't have any small-town roots, you can also head off to a random exotic location such as Africa and do something like save baby elephants (see: Holiday in the Wild). Or you can go to a small European town with a name that sounds suspiciously made up. Countries like Nonexistentstan or Trickslovia are good bets. (See: The Princess Switch)
Wherever you go, keep an eye out because your mystery date will be showing up within 24 hours of your arrival in your preferred destination. Also, if you can do this around the Christmas and New Year holiday or near Valentine's Day, your chances of finding your perfect match seem to skyrocket.
If you absolutely cannot leave your city, be on the lookout for a stranger that has recently arrived from OUT of town. You'll recognize him because of that fish-out-of-water quality they have.
If you're a country person, they'll be the city slicker that no one likes. If you're a city person, they may very likely be your new boss.
In some instances, they may be your lifelong best friend with whom everyone knew you were in love. Everyone except you, that is. Clearly you are very out of touch with your feelings. (See: Midnight at the Magnolia)
Related: How to Find Last Minute Travel Deals
Start a New Career
Another way to up your chances for love is to start a new career. If you can combine this with moving out of town, even better.
You could, say, start your own bed and breakfast. Or you could try to reinvigorate a dying pumpkin farm. Launching a bakery is also an excellent choice. Who cares if it's a bad economy for a new business adventure?
You've got more grit than that current marketing position allows you to use. So quit your job and start pursuing that career as a blogger, photographer, painter or writer like you always wanted to! (See: Falling Inn Love, Harvest Moon, Christmas Wonderland and Love, Romance & Chocolate.)
Your Current Relationship Status Doesn't Matter
This is some great news. You can be single and looking for love, single and adamantly opposed to finding love or you can even have a boyfriend. Just as long as he's kind of a douchebag or loser/weirdo that doesn't truly understand or appreciate you. (Can You Keep a Secret? is an example of acceptable current lovers).
In rare cases, you can even be recently divorced. Just as long as the guy is a total dick and 100% his fault you two broke up. (See: Holiday in the Wild)
Mr. Right may even have a current girlfriend. But according to the Hallmark channel movie Code, she must be a horrible person that doesn't appreciate him. If not, back off, sister.
Be on the Lookout For Someone You Have Nothing in Common With
Whether you choose the in-town or out-of-town approach, you will recognize Mr. Right by the fact that he is your polar opposite. If you're a city girl, he'll be a country guy looking for a country wedding. If you're a commoner, he'll be royalty. If you're a 21st-century woman, he'll be a medieval, time-traveling knight. Just be aware of the fact that it probably won't be your ex-boyfriend or Santa (See: Harvest Moon, A Christmas Prince, and The Knight Before Christmas.)
Your relationship may even be antagonistic at first. But don't worry about that. It just means that you have chemistry. When you bicker that much, it can only suggest you're totally hot for each other and not that you're incompatible.
The first time your country boy sees you slip in cow dung, he's going to know it's love. And the fact that you have nothing in common won't matter when your life turns into a magical montage of romantic moments that may or may not include snowball fights, tractor rides and wiping falafel off of each other's faces.
Another sure sign that will help you recognize the love of your life is what they call in the biz of romance films "the meet-cute." If you watch a lot of original movies from Hallmark, you should already know what this means.
You could, for example, literally bump into your romantic Wall Street trader on the New York streets and drop all of the packages you're carrying. Or you could reach for a Christmas ornament that you want to buy in a shop and find your life long love putting his hands on it at the same time.
If you're in the country, you may catch your partner falling off a horse. Or you may get into an argument with him over who gets to rent the last snowboard at a ski lodge.
You get the picture. You meet, and there's something so cute about it that you will tell the story to your future grandchildren until their eyes glaze over.
Bring on the Emotional Baggage and Red Flags
The fact that you have nothing in common is one red flag you should ignore, but there are others. Maybe your love interest was trying to swindle you out of your family vineyard before he fell for you. Ignore his sociopathic tendencies and open your heart to love.
Perhaps your guy is an emotionally damaged widower and workaholic who can't seem to love again. Or his mother died when he was a kid and left him with major psychological scars. Please ignore the fact that he's in major need of therapy and let yourself fall for him anyway.
Is he a womanizing Don Juan who can't seem to settle down? Don't worry; he will change for you and only you! He simply needs the right woman.
In the Hallmark Method, there's no such thing as impossible or inadvisable love!
Don't Have Sex Too Soon
If you're going to find true romance, you will have to resist having sex on the first date. Yes, we're talking to you, Tinder users. This is just not a part of the Hallmark Code. Many books on finding a meaningful relationship will tell you that it's better to get to know each other first.
In official Hallmark films, the hero and heroine don't even kiss until the movie's final scene. A shot which they quickly expand to make sure you don't see any tongue action. (See: Operation Christmas Drop)
Yes, there are some cheesy romance films that have the couple get a little nookie before they get serious. But these movies (generally found on Netflix) are far outnumbered by the no-action-until-the-last-shot classics. So why risk it?
The Hallmark Method's overarching message is no booty calls until you're about to commit for life.
Have One Serious Falling Out Before You Commit
To stick to the formula, you must have one (and only one) major fight before you decide to spend the rest of your lives together.
It needs to be some kind of secret revelation that's uncovered. Like the guy you're falling for is not just a lawyer. He's part-owner of a fast-food empire, and his original intention was to steal your unique recipes. But then he fell in love.
It also helps if one of you runs off somewhere during your fight.
This paves the way for:
1. a surprise reappearance
2. a makeup scene at an airport
3. a makeup scene in the snow or pouring rain.
Follow Your Heart
This is a vital part of the Hallmark Code. As you are terrified of love or just completely out of touch with your emotions, you must find someone that tells you to follow your heart.
It could be a kindly uncle that raised you because your parents died, a sister that knows you better than you know yourself, your best girlfriend or even your gay boyfriend (according to Netflix romance films).
The point is that it doesn't really matter who it is. Because once you get the green light, you're going to ignore every red flag, completely change your life around and rush headlong into the arms of that ranch hand, widower or workaholic/playboy and spend the rest of your life with them.
The End (?)
And here, friends, is where the Hallmark Code abruptly ends in a tongueless kiss. I'm afraid there are no guideposts for how you're going to deal with that widower's children, survive life in a town with less than 1200 people or live day to day with someone you can't stop arguing with.
But, hey, love conquers everything. Including significant life upheavals and a total clash of values, right? Hallmark is sure you can work it out. They just don't want to make a movie about life after the first kiss.
My Hallmark(ish) Love Story
For all you ladies who aren't rushing out there to put the Hallmark Code into practice, I will now relate my own story to see how it stacks up to the formula.
First, I left town.
So put a big check next to that one. I jumped on a plane with my best friend from LA and headed off to Playa del Carmen in the Mexican Caribbean for a little vacation. (Put another check next to an exotic location.)
My Relationship Status?
I was in a relationship with a grumpy, commitment-phobe who didn't understand or appreciate me. None of my friends liked him. But he did have me entranced with his cooking and other savory skills that are never mentioned in a Hallmark movie. Hmm, this may be slightly off code.
Though I was in an "it's-going-nowhere" sort of relationship, I was adamantly not looking for love. This, however, did not prevent my love interest from showing up within 24 hours of my arrival at the requisite exotic location. We are back on track with the code!
In fact, my mystery man was the first man I laid eyes on at the beach resort. Let me paint the scene for you:
I stepped out of a rental car directly onto the white sands of a Caribbean beach and was captivated by the turquoise waters.
"It's so beautiful," I exclaimed.
At this point, I heard the sexy baritone of a man standing behind me.
"And it's all yours," it said.
I then turned around to meet my romantic, Latin love interest. Shite! I mean, gee, could it be anymore Hallmark-like?
He Was My Total Opposite (and Presented a lot of Red Flags)
And yes, we had almost nothing in common. He: a spontaneous, party-loving, beach boy who wore his heart on his sleeve. Me: an emotionally guarded and sarcastic city girl who always had a plan.
And talk about red flags? He lived in a different country. He was separated but not legally divorced yet. Wow, I fear I strayed from the code in falling for someone that was only "nearly divorced."
But we can leave that part out of the movie.
Oops, I'm afraid we kissed only five days after meeting each other without a single thought of spending the rest of our lives together. But really, how is a girl supposed to resist a handsome Latin man with a killer smile while dancing around a bonfire under a starlit Caribbean sky?
It's categorically impossible.
The Middle of Our Movie
This part, girls, is where I veered very off track from many Hallmark codes. The details are probably best left for a novel. Let me just describe it as a haze of international flights, a McSteamy-McGrumpy situation, various falling outs followed by hot makeup sex and total emotional chaos.
The movie version will need a substantial rewrite.
No One Told Me To Follow My Heart
Though everyone seemed to like Mr. Killer Smile, not a single person EVER told me to follow my heart. In fact, they probably thought I was insane and that this thing was going to burn itself out in a burst of flames.
If only I'd had a kindly uncle on a ranch to guide me, I might have figured the whole thing a lot faster than four years. But how are you supposed to trust a romance that seems vaguely like a Hallmark movie? Or at least an R-rated one.
Despite the non-formulaic nature of my would-be Hallmark relationship, after four years of waffling, I took a leap of faith. And in this respect, I was true to the Hallmark Code. I left my job, friends, family and career and headed off to a Caribbean beach town for love and only love.
Okay, the exotic location was also pretty awesome.
So, How Did It End?
It ended with a beach wedding about six years after we met. But that was only the beginning of all sorts of other adventures.
Some of them were very Hallmark-ish... Others decidedly not. But I can say, we are still happily working at it 15 years after our meet-cute.
So what's the secret to a pair of opposites who manage to stay together despite the odds? Well, it may be communication, understanding and a lot of negotiating. But I suspect a critical key may be a little something we call "Cheesy Sunday."
Most Sundays, we turn on a Hallmark type of romance in the morning and laugh our butts off as we poke holes in the plot, say the exact lines the characters will say before they say them and make predictions about the cookie-cutter ending.
No matter how corny the film, Mr. Killer Smile cries every single time. I, Ms. Jaded City Girl, hug him while also laughing at him. Then I wipe the tears away.
So that's my implausible love story. It probably shouldn't have worked out in the end, but it did.
When it's all said and done, I'm not sure the Hallmark romance movies method is foolproof (or even advisable), but there may be just a little tiny subatomic particle of something to it. Maybe it's time to pull up the Countdown to Christmas for a Hallmark Christmas movie marathon or scroll through IMDB in search of any Lacey Chabert movie, strictly for matchmaker research purposes.
If nothing else, at least you'll get out of town for a few days.
The End... Well, kind of…
You might also like: The 31 Best Christmas Movies [That You Can Stream Right Now]
How To Find The Perfect Man According To Hallmark Movies:
- Leave Town Immediately
- Start a New Career
- Your Current Relationship Status Doesn't Matter
- Be on the Lookout For Someone You Have Nothing in Common With
- The Meet-Cute
- Bring on the Emotional Baggage and Red Flags
- Don't Have Sex Too Soon
- Have One Serious Falling Out Before You Commit
- Follow Your Heart
- The End (?)